contraceptives - Kariva Birth Control PillsIn light of the Obamacare mandate that employers pay for contraceptives for their female employees, the debate has raged about the morality of contraceptives, the impingement upon the freedom of choice among employers on what their health plans will cover, and the costs to the employers and the employees covered under those health care plans.  Clearly the dollar cost and liberty issues have taken front and center, at least as reported by the main stream media.  It seems that many have joined in supporting the Catholic Church’s position on opposing the mandate but, while the Catholic Church opposes the mandate based upon moral grounds, it would seem that most others that have joined their support are doing so because they feel that compelling an employer to pay for such coverage borders on socialism.  What goes unmentioned, for the most part, are the historical and Biblical basis for the Catholic Church’s position against artificial contraception, and the spiritual costs to a society that embraces birth control almost at any cost.

In order to address the push back from the Catholic Church and others, the Obama administration has recently announced that they’ll modify the mandate, albeit vaguely at this point, stating that religious institutions will not have to comply with the mandate.  But what about companies like Hobby Lobby who have drawn a line in the sand and stated they will not comply on moral grounds.  Is their moral foundation less important than a religious institution’s?  Perhaps the Obama administration will see reason and back down on the whole mandate, but in doing so that could well collapse what little fiscal base there is for the Affordable Care Act.  But, to not back down will likely result in a SCOTUS decision that would be against the mandate.  Back to square one again for the viability of the whole act.  For now though, let’s focus on the basis for the moral argument against artificial contraceptives, regardless.

Historically, artificial contraceptives have been available in some form for thousands of years.  Mainline Christian denominations all had long opposed the use of artificial contraception.  That is, until the early 1930’s when the Anglican Church was the first mainline denomination to advise their members that they were changing their position and that using artificial contraception was no longer a sin.  And that’s where the slide in morality began, at least in terms of how the unborn were valued, along with the long, drawn out slide towards the redefinition of marriage and trivialization of procreation as a fundamental pillar of marriage.  Eventually most mainline denominations would follow the Anglicans in their redefinition of sin.  But the Catholic Church has, and always will consider artificial contraception as a moral issue, because using artificial contraception exhibits a complete disregard of God’s will.  Now, before you contraceptive using Christians start criticizing my position in language that is, well, un-Christian, hear me out.

As I just noted above, the Anglicans were the first, but not the last mainline church, to consider artificial contraception as being acceptable.  In response to these changing moral positions initiated when Anglicans did an about face on the issue, Pope Pius XI affirmed the Catholic Church’s position on the issue in a papal encyclical, Casti Connubii (Latin for “Of Chaste Wedlock”).  This document responded to issues of the time including divorce, contraception and eugenics.  Go ahead, expand your horizons, and read the document.  For you non-Catholics, no need to fear that you might be converted against your will by reading a Catholic document.  But that shouldn’t prevent you with agreeing with it’s assertions, even if you disagree with Catholicism.

Here’s a rather blunt excerpt from the document:

“…but no reason, however grave, may be put forward by which anything intrinsically against nature may become conformable to nature and morally good. Since, therefore, the conjugal act is destined primarily by nature for the begetting of children, those who in exercising it deliberately frustrate its natural power and purpose sin against nature and commit a deed which is shameful and intrinsically vicious.”

Ouch!

You see, what the author is saying is that we, as Christians, have an obligation to uphold natural law.  And that law says that we are not to impede God’s will as it pertains to procreation.  In doing so, we aren’t just failing to invite God to be a complete part of our lives, we are actually disinviting him when it comes to procreation.  It’s one thing to not invite someone to an important event.  But to send them notice telling them specifically not to come, well, that’s got to hurt.  In doing so with God we reject fully the premise that all life is a gift from God.

Moving further along the road of history, Pope Paul VI issued an encyclical July, 1968, titled Humanae Vitae, which speaks specifically on the moral implications of regulating birth.  This encyclical speaks at length about love, conjugal marriage, parenthood and faithfulness in God’s design.  All this leads up to the consequences to a society that condones the use of artificial contraception.  These observations now appear to be prophetic as what was outlined as concerns in the encyclical, have come to pass.  Here’s an excerpt from Humanae Vitae that speaks to what the future held for it’s first readers in 1968.  In Humanae Vitae we find:

Grave Consequences of Methods of Artificial Birth Control

17. Upright men can even better convince themselves of the solid grounds on which the teaching of the Church in this field is based, if they care to reflect upon the consequences of methods of artificial birth control. Let them consider, first of all, how wide and easy a road would thus be opened up towards conjugal infidelity and the general lowering of morality. Not much experience is needed in order to know human weakness, and to understand that men — especially the young, who are so vulnerable on this point — have need of encouragement to be faithful to the moral law, so that they must not be offered some easy means of eluding its observance. It is also to be feared that the man, growing used to the employment of anti-conceptive practices, may finally lose respect for the woman and, no longer caring for her physical and psychological equilibrium, may come to the point of considering her as a mere instrument of selfish enjoyment, and no longer his respected and beloved companion.

Let it be considered also that a dangerous weapon would thus be placed in the hands of those public authorities who take no heed of moral exigencies. Who could blame a government for applying to the solution of the problems of the community those means acknowledged to be licit for married couples in the solution of a family problem? Who will stop rulers from favoring, from even imposing upon their peoples, if they were to consider it necessary, the method of contraception which they judge to be more efficacious? In such a way men, wishing to avoid individual, family, or social difficulties encountered in the observance of the divine law, would reach the point of placing at the mercy of the intervention of public authorities the most personal and most reserved sector of conjugal intimacy.

For a far more complete and eloquent summary of this piece of literary history, check out an article written by Dr. Janet Smith.

Within Humane Vitae, and within Dr. Smith’s piece on the subject, we learn that the use of artificial contraception made it easier to disregard our marital vows, facilitating infidelity by reducing the possibility of pregnancy in adulterous relationships.  Further, artificial contraception promotes fornication with sex reduced to recreation, rather than its primary Godly purpose of being procreative.  Even in the faithful relationships that honor the marital vows, men can lose respect for their wives, reducing her to simply a means of gratification for physical needs.  The encyclical further predicts how artificial contraception could be a dangerous tool in the hands of government or public authorities who care little about the moral law, and who may force the use of contraceptives upon everyone.

History shows quite clearly the consequences of society’s firm embrace of artificial contraception, as predicted by Pope Paul VI.  Since those prophetic words were published we’ve seen a sexual revolution which has resulted in a society that nearly worships sexual relationships with multiple partners. Infidelity has become the norm.  Almost 50% of all children are now born out of wedlock. Rates of divorce have increased exponentially.  The concept of marriage between a man and a woman and the nuclear family are constantly under attack.  Over 55 million abortions have been performed since 1973 with a very large percentage on women who were using artificial contraception.  Homosexuality has come out of the closet and is not only expected to be tolerated, but has moved into the realm of being celebrated on TV and in the movies and within the mainstream media, with those of us standing on moral grounds being accused of unevolved thinking.  The Supreme Court has just heard arguments on the constitutionality of laws that prohibit same sex marriage and the Defense of Marriage Act that defines marriage as being between a man and a woman.  Sexually transmitted diseases have reached epidemic proportions.  And, as noted above, fertility is now apparently a medical condition that is to be “treated” at employers’ expense by forcing them to pay for artificial contraceptives, a cost born not only by the employer, but all purchasers of health care insurance via higher premiums.  And here I was naïve to believe that it was infertility that was a medical condition that could truly justify medical intervention in many cases.  ALL of this is the fruit of a contracepting society.

We’ve clearly seen an avalanche in the decline in morality as defined by Judeo-Christian values over the past 80 years.  But what really troubles me is the level of use of artificial contraceptives by God fearing Christians.  What is even more troubling is that many of these contraceptive using Christians state that they are pro life.  While the negative impact of society since the legalization of contraceptives is quite clear and should be reason enough not to artificially contracept, how does one reconcile the use of artificial contraceptives which are known abortifacients, including “the Pill,” “the morning after pill,” “Plan B,” IUD’s and many others?  How does one rationalize using abortifacients that also have a proven history of undermining the marriage relationship?  And how does one who truly values their health reconcile taking a daily pharmaceutical linked with some many negative side affects, some of which include death?  This is even more of a conundrum when many who use chemical contraceptives are staunch advocates for eating well and who actively condemn the use of chemical in the production of our foods.

I hear of many faithful Protestant Christian pastors preaching on marriage, homosexuality, adultery, fornication, abortion and other sins.  Isn’t it time that they start preaching to their flocks about the sinfulness of using artificial contraceptives and how it leads to moral decay and sinfulness which can include chemically aborting their own babies, infidelity and fornication?  Isn’t it time to put procreation back into God’s hands and begin rebuilding the sanctity of marriage and the family?

Photo Credit: Urban Sea Star via Flickr (CC-By-NC-ND 2.0)

33 comments
  1. Pros of this article:

    -It is true that the prevalence of birth control has led to a cultural and moral decline, and people should think about that.

    Cons of this article:

    -The author concludes that contraceptive use is sinful without actually citing any Biblical grounds for that that conclusion. Like many Catholic doctrines, this seems to be based on tradition rather than scripture itself. This isn’t very persuasive for protestants.

    -The author seems to lump all forms of contraception together without distinguishing those that are not actually abortifacients, such as pills that prevent ovulation (and therefore prevent conception) and barrier methods of contraception such as condoms and diaphrams, which also prevent conception. I am very opposed to abortifacients that actually expel a fertilized egg, but I think there is a big moral difference between that and other types of contraception that actually prevent conception altogether.

    -If it is a sin to “impede God’s will” as it pertains to procreation with contraceptives, then why do Catholic family planning classes instruct couples in how to figure out their fertile days and abstain from sex on those days if you want to avoid pregnancy. Isn’t that impeding God’s will also? This hypocrisy makes the whole “all contraception is bad” argument far less persuasive.

    I agree that many forms of birth control are bad news and have negative health consequences. I think it would be more persuasive to focus on that, along with the overall negative societal impact. Birth control pills really mess with women’s bodies and sometimes cause irreversible harm to their bodies. Talk about that.

    In many ways, the contraceptive debate is analogous to the gun debate. The thing in itself is not necessarily bad, but it becomes a bad situation when people misuse it (such as contraceptive use, and sex generally, outside of marriage, abortifacient use, or guns used to kill others and not for self defense). It’s also bad when the thing itself does cause harm, as is the case with abortifacients. I would liken abortifacient contraceptives to a defective gun that occasionally explodes, killing all those nearby.

    I get concerned when poorly thought out arguments are made for the pro-family side. I think it hurts our movement as a whole.

    1. Just to address Scott’s charge here as to the “hypocrisy” of the Roman Catholic teaching on what is called Natural Family Planning… The essential difference between artificially contracepting (which involves willfully engaging in the sexual act but deliberately frustrating the outcome to which it is ordered by design) and abstaining from sex is that, in the latter case, such abstention requires that the couple cooperate with God’s design and, recognizing the power and intent of intercourse, only engage in it after deliberation and with full acceptance that, if, despite their efforts to space their pregnancies, one should result from their union anyway, then that is a cherished gift from God. In this way it is possible for the couple to apply human reasoning to the decision of *when* to have sex, and to still leave the door wide open to The Lord should He wish to bless the union with a child.

      That said, the Church does solemnly warn couples, at those classes you wrote of, that it is possible to carry on the outward appearances of Natural Family Planning without the correct interior disposition (such as from a defiant and self-centered mindset determined to indefinitely and “say no” to the possibility of children). It would be through this perversion and misuse of the teaching that we would encounter hypocrisy — rather than in the Church’s having taught it.

      1. The problem with this view is that it puts a guilt trip on folks who don’t want children. In this day of rampant acceptance of immorality, abortion, etc., why should anyone feel obligated to bring kids into this world? What kind of future would they be facing? And what if you can’t afford kids?

        So, according to this view, if you don’t want kids, then you shouldn’t get married? Or else wait until after menopause? What it all boils down to is that this view is merely opinion–a sort of “one size fits all” approach. The Scriptures do not give a definite mandate on this, so I believe that God allows Christians the freedom to decide whether they want to have children or not. The thing is, even if a married couple uses birth control, God could still have His way and bring a pregnancy if He wanted to, because birth control is not foolproof. 😉

      2. Hi again, Scott:

        I just want to clarify that my detailing of the Roman Catholic teaching on Natural Family Planning was intended to show that the teaching itself is not hypocritical, as you had initially suggested.

        And, to provide you with an answer as to the necessity of a couple’s openness to children: the Roman Catholic church asks and requires specifically that couples being married be open to children. It is covered publicly during the marriage rite. It is understood, though, that some couples are unable to conceive due to age or injury, and that others may discover later that they suffer from undesired infertility. Even in those cases, however, the genuine disposition of openness to the possibility of children is still required. So, while the Church does not *obligate* its faithful to produce children (because children are sent by God as a blessing, not provided on demand), it *does* obligate married couples to be *open* to children and to not frustrate God’s natural design of the sexual act.

        And as to in-vitro fertilization: the Roman Catholic church has consistantly maintained the teaching that the sexual act should not be separated from the procreative act. That is, the act that brings the child into existence should not be separated from the giving of spouses to one another and handed off instead to the power of doctors and technicians.

        These teachings are not easy, especially not in a world that is, as you noted, awash in immorality and self-centredness. Acceptance of and faithfulness to these teachings requires abandonment to The Lord; let anyone accept them who can.

      3. So, while the Church does not *obligate* its faithful to produce children (because children are sent by God as a blessing, not provided on demand), it *does* obligate married couples to be *open* to children and to not frustrate God’s natural design of the sexual act.

        Thanks for your reply, Timothy…but I’m not Scott. LOL. 🙂

        Although I can respect this Catholic teaching, it seems to stem from tradition, not directly from the Bible. Nowhere does the Bible state explicitly that all married couples must be open to having children. The teaching also seems rather legalistic, treating adults like little kids (no pun intended), whereas the New Testament grants believers freedom (to be used responsibly, of course) in a wide range of areas. If one truly subscribes to this teaching, then any kind of birth control should be considered “artificial” and wrong. To say that it’s OK to refrain from having sex at certain times of the month to keep from having children is inconsistent with the entire stated philosophy. Either birth control is OK, or it is wrong–period. Teaching that it’s OK to frustrate God’s will “naturally” just seems ludicrous. It’s a lot like saying, “If you’re going to run from God, make sure you do it on foot, so that He can still catch you. But don’t use a car or an airplane–that would be sin!” 😉

      4. Not to be overly pithy, Natural Family Planning, when practised
        with the morally correct interior disposition, is not about “birth
        control” — it is simply a program of *self*-control practised
        within the marriage.

        To respond to your charge that
        subscribing to the teaching on Natural Family Planning somehow
        proscribes the intention to space childbirths, allow me to quote from
        the Catechism of the Catholic Church (paragraph 2399): “The
        regulation of births represents one of the aspects of responsible
        fatherhood and motherhood”. So it can be seen that the Church
        actually reminds couples of their *duty* to responsibly regulate the
        frequency and number of childbirths. The same paragraph then goes on
        to say, “Legitimate intentions on the part of the spouses do not
        justify recourse to morally unacceptable means (for example, direct
        sterilization or contraception)”.

        From this quote, it can
        be seen that the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church acknowledges
        that couples can and do have legitimate intentions concerning their
        abilities to sustain children — but it upholds that using artificial
        contraception (and/or having oneself sterilized for expressly
        contraceptive ends) to achieve these intentions actually frustrates
        God’s natural design and is therefore morally unacceptable.

        I am not attempting to delve into a “tit-for-tat”
        comparison of doctrines. I know that not everyone reading this is
        practising Roman Catholic or wants to hear about Catholicism.
        Sincerely, I wish my responses here to be seen in the light merely as
        proposing the the Church’s teachings to you, rather than some kind of
        attempt at imposing them.

        – Timothy

    2. I agree. It’s puzzling that “natural” birth control is OK, but don’t you dare try to use any technology. In this view, apparently the God who created the universe isn’t powerful enough to keep the contraception from working if He truly wants you to have a child. 🙂 IMO, they’re either both OK or both wrong.

  2. I reject as unfounded, and based on prejudice, the assertion that contraceptives have cause a moral “decline” in this society. That contention only makes sense when viewed through a sectarian lens which has a narrow definition of “morality.” The bias against any kind of sexual expression is a dysfunction which dates to the early days of the christian church; I would also argue it is liberatory to separate sexual expression from reproduction.

    This would only be a matter for debate among christians if you folks would agree to stop using the law as a means of imposing your morality on others. However, since you insist on trying to restrict the reproductive rights of all Americans through force of law, this has changed from a theological issue to a political one. I also reject the contention that an employer like Hobby Lobby is a “victim” because federal regulations would prevent that corporation from imposing a set of sectarian standards upon all employees, regardless of their religious affiliation. Hobby Lobby is a business pursuing profits: just as that corporation is prohibited by law from discriminating in hiring based on religion or race, it should also be prohibited from discriminating by attempting to force a particular set of moral values on employees who do not adhere to those values. You are stretching the ministerial exception so far as render the concept meaningless.

    We are going to have to fight this out, because you folks seem to reject the idea that, as members of a pluralistic society, you will economically support people and activities you disapprove of. You may not like the idea that I and others have sex for pleasure, and may use contraceptives that you have indirectly paid for, but that hardly oppresses you. BTW, hear about the California Chick-fil-A franshise which offered free meals to supporters of same-sex marriage? Take THAT, Cathy family!

    1. Why do we have to pay for and support your sex for pleasure? If you are a grown up, you should be able to pay for the stuff yourself.

      1. *Loud, derisive laughter*
        You do realize I was vasectomized at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Rebecca? Taxpayer dollars, including MINE, help support that institution. My wife and I are both public employees, so I guess you’d try to claim that your tax dollars helped pay for the bed we, ahem, use.
        Don’t like that, then go live in a cave…

      2. I didn’t know I was to realize anything regarding your personal life, “Oh Self-actualized One.” I was generalizing. I can say I am happy to hear you don’t contribute to the gene pool.

      3. Rebecca, my late husband had a vasectomy long before we were married. Should I not have married him and enjoyed the twenty-five years of marriage that we did have?

    2. To what do you attribute the exponential increase since the 1930’s in out of wedlock births, premarital sex, abortions, divorces, etc.? Coincidence?

      1. Scott, was it “moral,” as was widely practiced, especially in the South, to lynch blacks accused of crimes? Was it “moral”, as happened in the Pullman strike, to use federal troops to break unions? How “moral” was it for slave owners to force their slaves to have sex with them, pick their husbands or wives, or breed them like cattle? Was it “moral” for husbands to own all of the family property and be able to sell their children’s labor without their consent? How “moral” was it for the Mormons to be chased by mob violence from upstate New York to Missouri to Illinois to Utah?

        Scott, you need to stop being so concerned about how other people choose to live their lives. Since you seem to enjoy trying to bully people you call “liberal,” I’m more than ready to rumble, intellectually, with you. I will do to your arguments what Patton did when crossing the Rhine.

      1. Yes, sex and fertility are medical conditions which are, and should be, covered by health insurance. For example, Mt. Mercy University in Cedar Rapids, for years, has complied with federal regs by allowing contraceptive coverage for its employees. Scott, it is one thing for a church to adumbrate its doctrine, but quite another to impose that doctrine on non-ministerial employees.

        I reject your reality and subsitute my own! I LOVE Mythbusters!

  3. First off, I would agree that contraception has led to a lot of sinful behavior. This article definitely makes its share of good points. But does this mean that contraception is definitely unbiblical? No. Traditional contraception keeps a life from being created–it does not destroy one that has already been conceived.

    What about animals? Is it wrong to get them spayed or neutered? How can one method be wrong but the other just fine? Any system can be abused. Nevertheless, I don’t see anything in the Bible that would indicate that a husband and wife cannot choose how many kids (if any) they would like to have. In fact, I would say that bringing innocent children into today’s evil world is almost a sin in itself. Of course, that’s only my opinion. But choosing not to have kids is not wrong in itself–children require a lot of time, love, money, etc. What if you cannot provide such an environment? Should a married couple, if they refuse to use birth control, just give any unwanted children they have up for adoption??? The New Testament talks a lot about the freedom that believers have in Christ, and I believe that, for married couples, birth control would fall under this area. If someone believes it’s wrong, they shouldn’t use it–if they think it’s fine, then it’s acceptable to use it.

    In the end, it’s fine to have one’s own opinions on this matter. In a perfect world, we wouldn’t need birth control. But to state dogmatically that birth control is wrong is to speak where the Bible really does not.

  4. Thank you. You seem to have read the Bible and are following it. It isn’t up to us to decide when and where and how many kids to have, we are supposed to follow God’s ideas on the subject. We can easily find out what his ideas are by reading and studying the Bible, then doing it. We need people like you to help those of us who want to follow God, but don’t have the social and familial background. We are so materialistic and self-centered, it seems impossible to raise more than two children. However, our Protestant ancestors did pretty well with having an average of six to eight children per married couple. And, they had fun and adventure living life and raising their large families.

  5. I am a post-menopausal widow. Is it wrong in Jahweh’s eyes to get married again knowing there would be no children?

  6. This one’s not just for Rebecca, but for all members of this self-described “christian conservative community.”

    Rush Limbaugh shamed himself when he talked about Sandra Fluke needing Gerogetown University to “pay her for having sex” simply because she insisted the college include contraceptive coverage as part of the health insurance it offered its employees. Rebecca, you have not only shamed yourself here by sounding mean-spirited and resentful, you have shamed your fellow christians by claiming, in the name of your religion, that you can make personal choices for other people, whether or not they share your faith.

    You folks can thank the Cedar Rapids Gazette for my being here: that paper has excerpted much material from this site, so I had to come over and check it out. I’ve been banned from Facebook pages like Illinois Family Institute, Heterosexual Inspired Pride, and both versions of Heterosexual Awarness Month simply for asking pointed questions about why self-described “christians” insist on denying LGBT people equal rights.

    Maybe I am a “troll.” I have long taken inspiration from George C. Scott’s role as Geroge S. Patton, where he said “Americans love to fight.” So, too, does Scott Bailey when he proudly tells us he likes to “annoy” and “outrage” “liberals and moderates” with his “fact-based” arguments, since he has “grown a brain” and becomes “conservative.” Since when did scripture require a believer in Jesus’ ministry to insult people whose perspectives differ from his, and align politically with the rich and powerful? Indeed, what would Jesus do?

    I’m here because I don’t just want to talk with people I already agree with. I want to test my skills, mind, and ideas with people whose perspective is alien to mine. If I fight, it is not to be a bully like Scott, to congratulate myself on my perceived intellectual superiority. I fight to defend the freedom of ALL Americans, not just heterosexual “conservative christians,” to share our lives as citizens of a commonweal.

    I want to learn how we can live together. Do you?

  7. This is for Jeff and his alter-ego, “not so-and so”. You are not capable of shaming me, or anyone else. Your big problem is your ego. The Christian Church is not about your ego. You can’t appreciate this site, due to several things missing in yourself. But, if you keep coming back to it, there may be hope for you, yet.

    1. I’m all here, Rebecca. The only thing I’m “missing” is the willingness to surrender my intellectual freedom. Look at how you have defectively framed the issue: you are expressing resentment of people who ask that contraceptive coverage, which is a medical procedure, be included in their health insurance. You had to make it personal by venting your resentment in the form of alleging you don’t want to “pay” for someone else to have sex.

      That is exactly the phrasing Rush Limbaugh used, for which he was rightly censured, and for which he insincerely apologized. Two other sentiments: Efrain Rios-Montt, the Guatemalan general who conducted a genocidal war against his country’s indigenous people and who was embraced by, among others, Bill Bright for being a “born-again christian,” is finally standing trial in Guatemala for his crimes. And, today is the fourth anniversary of the Varnum v. Brien decision, which legalized same-sex marriage in Iowa.

      BTW, my ego isn’t nearly as big as the chip on your shoulder. As songwriter Vic Chesnutt said, “A chip on the shoulder means there’s wood up above.”

      1. Dear Jeff, you started the insults, not me. You are the one confusing an article on how Christians might possibly look at contraceptives with your own view of contraceptives. No one said you or anyone else should do anything. But, this is how you are taking it. Your comments on the article don’t go with the article. You are off on a tangent. Your egocentricity is getting in the way of your judgment. Efrain Rios Montt? Earth to Jeff.

      2. Just reminding you how Bill Bright, the Reagan Administration, and evangelical christians embraced a mass murderer who claimed to be “born again,” while telling the rest of us they are “pro-life” by outlawing abortion and, if you succeed, limiting access to contraception.

      3. Dear Jeff, you started the insults, not me. You are the one confusing an article on how Christians might possibly look at contraceptives with your own view of contraceptives. No one said you or anyone else should do anything. But, this is how you are taking it. Your comments on the article don’t go with the article. You are off on a tangent. Your egocentricity is getting in the way of your judgment. Efrain Rios Montt? Earth to Jeff.

  8. In response to those suggesting there is no scriptural reference and the position on birth control is merely a Catholic tradition or creation:
    Martin Luther said, “[T]he exceedingly foul deed of Onan, the basest of wretches . . . is a most disgraceful sin. It is far more atrocious than incest and adultery. We call it unchastity, yes, a sodomitic sin. For Onan goes in to her; that is, he lies with her and copulates, and when it comes to the point of insemination, spills the semen, lest the woman conceive. Surely at such a time the order of nature established by God in procreation should be followed. Accordingly, it was a most disgraceful crime. . . . Consequently, he deserved to be killed by God. He committed an evil deed. Therefore, God punished him.”
    John Calvin said, “The voluntary spilling of semen outside of intercourse between man and woman is a monstrous thing. Deliberately to withdraw from coitus in order that semen may fall on the ground is doubly monstrous. For this is to extinguish the hope of the race and to kill before he is born the hoped-for offspring.”
    John Wesley warned, “Those sins that dishonor the body are very displeasing to God, and the evidence of vile affections. Observe, the thing which he [Onan] did displeased the Lord—and it is to be feared; thousands, especially of single persons, by this very thing, still displease the Lord, and destroy their own souls.” (These passages are quoted in Charles D. Provan, The Bible and Birth Control, which contains many quotes by historic Protestant figures who recognize contraception’s evils.)
    Some rather noteworthy Protestants have taken a single scripture to support their position on the use of contraception. If “spilling one’s seed” is considered abominable by leaders within the Protestant movement, why wouldn’t using any other form of avoiding pregnancy likewise fall within those opinions as well?

    1. Some rather noteworthy Protestants have taken a single scripture to support their position on the use of contraception.

      Here are the verses about Onan:

      Then Judah said to Onan, “Sleep with your brother’s wife and fulfill your duty to her as a brother-in-law to raise up offspring for your brother.” But Onan knew that the child would not be his; so whenever he slept with his brother’s wife, he spilled his semen on the ground to keep from providing offspring for his brother. What he did was wicked in the Lord’s sight; so the Lord put him to death also.

      Onan’s grievous sin wasn’t the coitus interruptus per se, but his selfish, steadfast refusal to give Tamar, the wife of his deceased brother, a child as dictated by the law in order to continue the line of his brother. That’s why God killed him. To focus on the method by which he disobeyed is to miss the point. No doubt if he had simply refused to have sex with her (e.g., “natural” birth control), God would have killed him just the same. Would one then conclude that refraining from sex is always wrong? 😉 No, it was all about Onan’s evil motivation–he was flagrantly disobeying a command of God, and he knew it. To use this single Scripture out of context to rail against all forms of birth control is misguided and simplistic. Nowadays, nobody is under a “law” to produce children. If birth control were truly wrong, I think there would be at least half a dozen verses in the Bible that would make the fact pretty clear.

      If “spilling one’s seed” is considered abominable by leaders within the Protestant movement, why wouldn’t using any other form of avoiding pregnancy likewise fall within those opinions as well?

      First off, what “leaders,” Protestant or otherwise, have to say about the matter may be interesting, but is hardly binding. Calvin, Luther, etc., were entitled to their opinions on the subject, but they’re not Gospel. However, you basically proved one of my points: If one form of birth control is wrong, then all forms should be considered wrong, including “natural” birth control. Exactly where in the Bible does it state that “natural” birth control is OK?

      Anyway, it’s been an interesting discussion, Scott. As I said, even though I disagree with their view, I don’t have a problem with folks who believe that certain forms of birth control are wrong. I only have a problem once they start saying, “Thus saith the Lord.” 🙂 However, I do admire the fact that they see the true spiritual significance of sex and don’t view it as merely some pleasurable biological activity, the way the world does. So, their intentions are obviously good.

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